When To Hire A Ghostwriter

When To Hire A Ghostwriter

The Writer’s Sherpa

South Carolina Writers Association member, Do you have a story stuck in your heart, but can't figure out how to write it? Click through to learn about ghostwriters and when one might be right for you!Melinda Copp, is a professional ghostwriter and editorial consultant.  Melinda is the owner and founder of The Writer’s Sherpa.  Like the Sherpas who guide mountain climbers to the crest of Mount Everest, Melinda guides her clients to their best, most compelling, completed manuscript.

Melinda sat down with me recently to talk about her work as a ghostwriter and editorial consultant.  Melinda’s career as a ghostwriter started serendipitously.  She and her husband were living on Hilton Head Island.  She had earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism and was looking for a job at a newspaper.  This was around the time when newspapers were struggling to learn how to survive in an increasingly web-centric environment.  Her father saw an ad for an editorial assistant for a self-publishing company in the local newspaper.

Until Melinda took this job, she hadn’t heard of ghostwriting.  Over the course of the next two years, she wrote approximately 200 articles.

When she got pregnant with her first child, she opened her business, The Writer’s Sherpa. Since then, Melinda has ghostwritten twelve books.

When should I hire a ghostwriter?

ReginaMaeWrites GhostwriterWriting a sixty to eighty thousand word book is a significant investment of time.  Many of Melinda’s clients are professionals who are living their story on a daily basis and don’t have time to put the story on paper.  It may be time to hire a ghostwriter if you have a story that you need to tell, but you don’t have the time to write it.

Writing also takes a certain amount of skill.  Melinda has a Bachelor’s degree in journalism and a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing non-fiction.  It may be time to hire a ghostwriter if you don’t have the skill set to write a book by yourself.

How do I prepare to work with a ghostwriter?

Before hiring a ghostwriter, spend time thinking about your idea.  The clearer you are on the idea, the easier it will be to write it.  A good ghostwriter will take anything you have, rough ideas, notes, research, outlines, tape recordings, and organize them into a cohesive piece of work.

How do I find the right ghostwriter?

When you hire a ghostwriter, you can expect to spend six to eight months working with them.  Before committing to a ghostwriter, check out their website.  Is the writing compelling?  Does their style resonate with you?

Check out their testimonials page.  Not everyone is willing to admit that they’ve used a ghostwriter, but they should have some testimonials that you can review.

Take advantage of a get-acquainted telephone call or skype session to check your chemistry with  your potential ghostwriter.

What does it cost to hire a ghostwriter?

Ghostwriters charge in various ways, including by the word, by the page or a set project fee.  Melinda charges a project fee based upon the number of interviews and the amount of time she will spend on the project, and the fee is paid monthly over the course of the project.

For a book, most experienced ghostwriters’ charges begin in the low five figures.

What won’t a ghostwriter do for me?

Ghostwriters will take your ideas and turn them into a compelling and engaging story.  But ghostwriters will not market your book for you. They do not participate in profit-sharing.  Once they have written and edited your story, their job is complete.

What if I really want to write my book myself?

cruise logoIf you’ve never written a book and you really want to write the book yourself, you might want to consider hiring a writing coach or editor.  In addition to ghostwriting, Melinda also acts as a writing coach or editor, helping writers organize and edit their stories in the most impactful way.

Melinda also offers seminars to help aspiring authors find their voice.  The Writer’s Sherpa’s next seminar is The Write Your Book Workshop and Cruise from March 2-6, 2017 on the Carnival Elation, Port of Jacksonville, Florida. If you are considering writing a memoir but don’t know where to start, this might be a good fit for you.

Where can I find the Writer’s Sherpa?

You can find Melinda Copp and the Writer’s Sherpa at http://www.writerssherparetreats.com, on Facebook and Twitter.

Ever Upward Regina Mae

How to Eat Like a Surfer on Kauai

How to Eat Like a Surfer on Kauai

IMG_0641One of my greatest pleasures is traveling, and last fall I was lucky enough to visit the beautiful island of Kauai with my Surfer Boy. While we were there, I discovered that there are many restaurants on Kauai that cater to tourists, (no trip to Kauai would be complete without trying the Hula Pie at Keoki’s Paradise).  But if you want to experience the beautiful Garden Isle like a local, here are a few suggestions that will let you eat like a surfer, even if you aren’t.


Ishihara Market is in Waimea on the west side of Kauai.  Most of the store is a typical neighborhood grocery store.  But the deli at the back of the store is a local secret.

Ishihara sells the best Poke (pronounced “Poh-Kay”) on the island.  Poke is a raw fish salad often made of ahi tuna.  The lobster Poke melts in your mouth like butter.   You can buy Poke by the pound.  I recommend getting some of the ahi Poke and the lobster Poke.  If you’re really hungry, add a Hawaiian plate lunch with chicken teriyaki, and head to Polihale State Park for a day of shredding waves at the beach.

Ishihara Market is located at 9894 Kaumualii Hwy, Waimea, HI.

Old Koloa Town

One of the best kept secrets of Old Koloa Town on the south side of Kauai is the Koloa Fish Market.  Their Hawaiian Plates of lomi-lomi salmon and Kahlua pig make a perfect break from shopping at the old plantation stores that have been turned into shops for tourists.

Lomi-lomi salmon is a salad made of fresh tomato and salmon.  Kahlua pork is made from cooking an entire pig underground in an imu until it is tender enough to shred.

The Koloa Fish Market is located at 5482 Koloa Rd, Koloa, HI across the street from the Koloa Post Office.

Poipu Beach

Brennecke’s Beach Deli offers the consummate surfer lunch: chili and rice.  Grab your bowl of chili and rice, and a mochi or a shave ice, and head across the street to the Poipu Beach Park.  Sit under the plumeria trees at one of the many picnic tables or throw out a blanket on the grass and watch the surfers attack Nu Kamoi Point and Left Lefts.

Brennecke’s Beach Deli is located at 2100 Hoone Road, Poipu Beach, Koloa, HI.

When you’ve had your fill of the beach, head over to the Kuk, or the Kukuiula Store, for spam musubi.  Spam musubi is a slice of grilled spam and a block of white rice wrapped in nori (dried seaweed).  After grabbing your musubi, head to the back of the Kuk for a fresh juice, smoothie or acai bowl at Anake’s Juice Bar.

Photo Courtesy Anake’s Juice Bar

The Kukuiula Store and Anake’s Juice Bar are located at 2827 Poipu Road, Koloa, HI.


Not far from the Lihue Airport are two local favorites.

Hamura’s Saimin is an iconic restaurant in Kauai featuring saimin, a Hawaiian-style noodle dish that made with Chinese-style noodles in a Japanese-style broth and pieces of fish, pork, green onion, and a boiled egg.  For dessert, grab a piece of lilikoi (passion fruit) chiffon pie.   Order your saimin and pie to go, and take it to the nearby Nawiliwili Park and watch the stand up paddle boarders and surfers as helicopters fly tourists overhead.

Hamura’s Saimin is located at 2956 Rice Street, Lihue, HI.

After you finish your lunch, head straight from the Nawiliwili Park to the K-Mart and visit Kauai Malasadas, a little stand in front of K-Mart that makes the best malasadas on the island.  Malasadas are Portuguese bits of dough, deep-fried and covered in sugar, similar to doughnuts.

Malasadas definitely taste better hot and fresh because once they are cold, they resemble a hockey putt more than a doughnut.  So make sure you only order as many as you can eat while they are hot.

Kauai Malasadas is located at 4303 Nawiliwili Road, Lihue, HI in front of the K-Mart.


Haena Beach Park on State Road 560 just past Tunnels Beach has a food truck that serves freshly-picked and cut pineapple and mango that are perfect for a day of watching surfers at Tunnels Beach.  Or stop for a quick dip, and take your fruit with you to Ke’e Beach or the Kalalau Trail on the North Shore of Kauai.


On your way from the Haena Beach Park toward the North Shore, make sure you stop in Hanalei for a Loco Moco.  The Loco Moco is the epitome of surfer food:  a hamburger patty on white rice, covered with a fried egg and brown gravy.  Chicken in a Barrel in Hanalei is a great place to stop on your way to or from the North Shore.

Chicken in a Barrel is located at 5-5190 Kuhio Highway, Hanalei, HI.

There are many places to eat on Kauai, but these are some of my new favorites after visiting Kauai with  my favorite Surfer Boy.  Next time you are in Kauai, give a few of them a try and let me know what you think!

Ever Upward Regina Mae

Why Every Woman Should Travel Alone

Why Every Woman Should Travel Alone

I am a happy introvert who is fairly content to spend long periods of time alone reading or writing.  I love long lazy afternoons lounging on the back patio under the ceiling fan with the smells of honeysuckle and jasmine surrounding me, nothing to keep me company but my bevy of dogs and an occasional hummingbird.

But the caveat is that those alone times are always at home.

I’ve never been comfortable being alone in public, and didn’t eat in a restaurant alone until I was in my twenties.  (Which sounds pretty ridiculous now that I’m fifty, but it is what it is.)

All that changed for me the year I traveled to Europe alone.

I booked the trip to spend a week in Paris and Rome with a companion, but in the three months that passed between booking the trip and leaving, the relationship faded.  Which left me with choosing between foregoing the dream trip of a lifetime or going alone.

One of my friends was especially encouraging about my going to Europe alone.  He sent me links to articles written by women who traveled alone, and regaled me with tales of one of his friends who only traveled alone.  He and his partner sat me down and marked up my street maps of Paris and Rome so I would know where I should go, and gave me an intense lesson on using the Metro (which I never got to put into practice because I never could find the metro).

Before I knew it, the months passed and it was time to go.

Nobody To Take Care Of But Myself

Traveling Alone ReginaMaeWrites.com.PNGMy flight was one of those all-night affairs that, coupled with a six-hour time difference, meant I arrived in Paris hours before my hotel room was ready.  Since I’ve never been able to sleep in a plane, I arrived in Paris punch-drunk with fatigue and excitement.

My tour included a two day pass for the hop-on hop-off bus tour, and was the perfect way to get to know the city. I had five hours to fill before I could get into my room, and by the end, I’d seen the Arc de Triomphe, the Eiffel Tower, and spent a glorious hour wandering around the Musee D’Orsay.  By two o’clock, I was tired and hungry.  I sat on the tour bus thinking, “I am so glad I’m the only person I have to worry about right now.”

I’m the oldest of five children, was a wife by the time I was twenty, and am the mama of two beautiful children.  That day in Paris was the first time in years that I didn’t have anyone else to take care of but myself.

It was my first of many epiphanies on my week-long adventure.

I Can Do What I Want, When I Want, For As Long As I Want

When I finally got back to the hotel, I fell into my bed and took the happiest nap of my life.  I woke up at eight, got dressed and headed to Avenue des Champs-Elysées to find food. 

Wandering around Paris’s most famous street by myself was wonderful.  I stopped and watched street performers, and checked the menus at every sidewalk cafe, before settling on the Cafe George V.  My outdoor seat gave me the perfect vantage point to people-watch, and the tight seating gave me an opportunity to meet the family from Dubai seated to my right. 

Being alone meant I got to nap as long as I wanted, get dressed as quickly as I liked, eat when and where I wanted.

In the coming days, it also meant I could sit in the Musee de l’Orangerie for an hour staring at Monet’s water lilies, a floor-to-ceiling, wall-to-wall affair to lasted for two entire rooms, and then race through the Louvre as fast as my feet would carry me, my head bobbing left and right to take in as many paintings and sculptures as I could before it closed for the day.

I got to do what I wanted, when I wanted and for as long as I wanted, without worrying about anyone else’s agenda.

Time To Ponder

One of the greatest joys of traveling alone was the time it gave me to ponder. 

At work, I’m on the phone or in meetings all day long.  At home, I’ve got children who need me.  Time to ponder is a rarity.  But when you travel to a foreign country alone, you get to spend as much time thinking as you’d like.

I sat in restaurants and wrote in my journal.  I sat in museums and studied tourists as closely as I studied the master’s works of arts. 

And I thought. 

I spent hours thinking about my life.  My marriage, which had ended three years earlier.  My most recent romantic relationship, that had ended six weeks before.

My career.  My children. 

I spent hours making up entire back stories for the tourists and Parisians who crossed my path.

I’ve never spent more time thinking before or since.

Learn To Stand In My Power

When I am in my comfort zone, at work or at home with my kids, I am fearless.  It’s only when I’ve left work or home that the fear kicks in, turning my beating heart into a staccato drum solo.

Traveling Alone Regina Mae Writes.PNGGetting lost is my biggest fear, firmly entrenched in my belief that I have no sense of direction. 

My first day in Paris, after wandering around town on the bus tour, I returned to the Arc de Triomphe to catch  my bus back to the hotel.  The Arc de Triomphe is located at the end of twelve streets and faces Avenue des Champs-Elysées.  I got off the double-decker tour bus and walked down a couple of streets, trying to backtrack my way to where the local transit bus had let me off earlier in the day.

I had very carefully noted the designation on the front placard of the bus that morning. 

Charles de Gaulle Etoile.

I walked down three streets, which seemed about right to me, and approached the bus driver.

“Bonjour.  Does this bus go to Rue de Roma?”

“Non, madame.”

I walk down one more street.  Ask the same question.  This time the driver points to the next street and says, “Try that bus.”

The next bus is also a bust, and it’s right around then that I have the sickening realization that each bus is designated as Charles de Gaulle Etoile

I vaguely remember the metro lesson I got weeks earlier.  Look around the etoile at twelve streets and realize that this must be the end of the line for all of these buses.  Twelve streets, who knows how many buses, and I have no idea which bus is mine.

I stand on the street corner, the sinking feeling that I am lost rising in my chest.  Just as an anxiety attack starts to creep up on me, a taxi turns the corner.

I throw my hand up in the universal signal, and when the driver stops, I lean into the passenger-side window.

“Excusez-moi, can you take me to my hotel?”

“Oui, madame, get in.”

I give him my address and he whisks me away through the streets of Paris, pointing out the Parc Monceau where I will spend a few delirious hours my last day in Paris, and delivers me seamlessly to the front door of my hotel.

Lost Girl – 1  Paris – 0

After facing my worst fear on my first day traveling alone, I spend the next six days reveling in the feeling of not knowing where I am, but knowing I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be.  Getting lost and seeing what I find around each next corner becomes my new comfort zone.

All in all, traveling alone is the most self-empowering thing I’ve ever done.  I took many precautions and then spread my wings and flew out into the world, nobody holding me up or weighing me down.

And it was glorious.

If you’ve never taken a trip alone, I encourage you to do it.

Is there somewhere you’ve always dreamt of going and nobody will go with you?

Go alone.

You won’t regret it.

Ever Upward Regina Mae

Five Steps to Leaving a Long-Term Relationship

Five Steps to Leaving a Long-Term Relationship

I was married for over twenty years to my first real boyfriend.  That relationship lasted from my late-teens to my mid-forties.

I remember the day I realized my marriage was toxic.  I was at a yoga retreat, the most unlikely place in the world for bookworm-me.  My gloriously-maned, curvaceous yoga instructor arranged us in a half-moon, and handed each of us a slip of blank paper.

“We are going to close our eyes and meditate for a minute. During that time, I want you to think about what is toxic in your life.  Then, we will write it down and dedicate this space to clearing that toxic thing, whatever it is, from our lives.  At the end of class, I will gather all the pieces of paper and we will burn them in this bowl.”

I remember dutifully sitting cross-legged on my tightly folded yoga blanket, legs crossed, eyes closed.

What is toxic in my life?

My marriage.

Not an acceptable answer to me, so I tried again.

What is toxic in my life?

My marriage.

No matter how much I tried to deny it, that particular day the truth wouldn’t let me be.

It took several months, and another epiphanous moment, before I could act on that certain knowledge.  Then I spent another couple of weeks googling things like, “How to ask for a divorce.”

All these years later, this is the advice I wish someone had given me.

Walk, Run or Crawl

When you’re in a toxic relationship, walk out of it if you can.
  Run if you must.  And if nothing else is available to you, then crawl away, my darling.  Crawl away.

I wasn’t in physical danger in my marriage, and could afford to take as much time as I needed to plot out how to leave.  I sought advice from friends who’d been in similar situations.  I paid off his credit cards.  I made discreet inquiries about a rental house, in case I needed to pack up our two kids and four dogs and leave our home.

Five Steps to Leaving a Long Term Relationship ReginaMaeWrites

If you are in physical danger, then run, my dear. Pack your suitcase and flee.  Go to a friend, a family member, or a women’s shelter.  You do whatever you have to do to make sure your partner cannot hurt you again.

If you are so worn down by emotional abuse or neglect that you can barely imagine your life any other way, then crawl away if you must.

You know if it’s bad.  You know when it’s time to leave.

Sit still, close your eyes and open your heart.  Your answer will come to you in the silence.  That still silent voice will beckon you toward your true and right life.

Be Honorable About Leaving

Some people have a difficult time leaving one relationship unless they know there is another one waiting for them.  Consciously or subconsciously, when the relationship they are in is bad, they start looking for another one.

Be Honorable About Leaving ReginaMaeWrites.PNGDon’t be that person.  Don’t be the cheater-deleter who sneaks around thinking they’ll never get caught.  You will get caught. 

If you aren’t happy where you are, look your partner in the face and say what needs to be said.

I don’t want to hurt you, but I don’t want to be married to you anymore.

Those words are the hardest I’ve ever spoken.  Twenty-four years together, two beautiful children, and a life that was mostly perfect—at least on the surface.

But I didn’t love him anymore.

And he didn’t love me, at least not the way I needed to be loved.

It can be so very tempting when you aren’t happy at home to look for that happiness somewhere else.  But at the end of the day, if you walk away honorably you will be able to look yourself in the mirror, look your children in the face, and know that you did the right thing, the right way.

Stand In Your Power

Stand Firm in Your Personal Power Regina Mae Writes.PNGFor two years before I asked for a divorce, I saw a holistic health practitioner who repeatedly told me that if I would learn to stand in my power, I would quit having stomach pains.

I didn’t understand what she meant.  She told me that the third chakra, called the Manipura, is located between the belly button and the breastbone.  She explained that the Manipura is the center of your personal power.

Take your palm and lay it flat on your belly, below your ribs and above your belly button.  Close your eyes for a minute and feel it—feel the power coming from your third chakra into your palm.  Feel the energy flowing from your palm back to your third chakra.

Send strength and love and peace to your third chakra.

Feel your personal power sharpen and strengthen.

Stand in that personal power.  Your personal power.

When you tell your partner you want to leave, it may not go well.

You may experience belittling. Humiliation.  Cajoling.

He may produce promises.  Tears.  Threats.

It may feel like  a tsunami of emotions crashing over you, especially if you have been in the relationship for a long time.

Stand firm in your personal power.  For your sake.  And theirs.  Clean breaks heal best, whether it’s bones or hearts that are broken.

Lean On Your Friends

Lean On Your Friends ReginaMaeWrites.PNGSurround yourself with friends.  They will help you fill lonely days and nights as you adjust to your new life outside of your longterm relationship.

Find friends who will let you talk until even you’re sick of your story.  Friends who will let you cry until your tears run dry.

Find friends who will make you laugh.

Find at least one friend who will look you in the eye and say, “Everything is going to be okay.  I know you don’t believe that right now, but can you at least believe that I believe it?”

Find at least one friend who will remind you that a year from now, you won’t feel this way.  Six months from now, you won’t feel this way. Maybe even a week from now, you won’t feel the way you feel right now in this moment of despair.

If you and your partner are part of a large social group, you may need to branch out and find new friends.  Your breakup may impact your entire social group in ways you cannot predict.

Sometimes, sides will be taken.  Rumors will fly like arrows.

Sometimes, every one of your friends will do the best they can to be as neutral as Switzerland, but sitting in that same backyard, with those same smiling faces, drinking the same glass of wine is just too painful without that partner you loved for so many years.

When that happens, find new friends.  New hobbies.  New places to spend your free time.

Friends will make the difference between just getting by and thriving.

Take Time To Heal

Hit Pause ReginaMaeWrites.PNGOnce you’ve made the break from your partner, hit pause for a while.  Don’t rush into a new relationship.  Don’t jump on a bunch of dating sites.

Spend time alone, listening to your heart.  What is it telling you?

Take time to learn to love your own company.  Make reservations at your favorite restaurant, or find a new favorite eatery.  Sit in the semi-dark and people-watch while you sip your wine and nosh on delicious food.

Go to your favorite park or nature preserve and take a long walk.

See a movie by yourself.

Or do like I did, and go on a solo trek to Paris and Rome.

Keep doing things by yourself until you truly know what peace and contentment feel like.  Then, when you start dating, don’t settle for any relationship that makes you feel less peace or contentment than you felt when you were alone.

Healing takes time.  I read once that you should take one month for every year you were in a relationship.  That would have been two years for me, and looking back on the decisions I made those first two years after I asked for a divorce, I think they are onto something.

The thing I regret most about that time is not waiting longer before I started dating.  I remember thinking that I wasn’t getting any younger, or thinner, or prettier, so I better get out there and find someone new.

And the truth is, I was partially right.  I didn’t get any younger.  Or any thinner.

But I did get more powerful.  More comfortable in my space.  More able to identify what peace and joy feel like.  Looking back, the time I spent alone was incredibly healing and powerful.  And I should have taken more of that time to just be alone. I should have spent as much effort creating a relationship with myself as I spent trying to find a relationship with somebody new.

Wrapping It Up 

Relationships are tough.  Staying in them is challenging.  Leaving them, especially when you’ve been with someone for a long time, can be just as challenging.

When it’s time to leave a long-term relationship, get out any way you can:  walk away, run away or crawl.  Be honorable in your actions leading up to the break-up.  Learn to stand in your power.  Lean on your friends, both new and old.  And take as much time as you need to heal before stepping into your next relationship.

If you’ve been through a break up after a long-term relationship, what is the one piece of advice you that helped you the most?

Ever Upward Regina Mae

Three Apps You Need To Write More Effectively

Three Apps You Need To Write More Effectively

The goal of most of the writers I know, including me, is to maximize the amount of writing we do while retaining the highest quality possible.  Most writers also hold down full-time jobs and are raising families while trying to contribute to the world in a meaningful way with their words.  Here are three apps that I have found that help me write more effectively, and will help you, too.


Scrivener ReginaMaeWrites.comOne of the apps that has helped me streamline the writing process is Scrivener by Literature and Latte.  The app comes in two versions for Mac or Windows and is reasonably priced at $45 for Mac or $40 for Windows.

I originally transitioned from drafting all of my books and articles in Microsoft Word to using Scrivener after receiving a copy of the book Scrivener Superpowers by M.G. Herron.  Herron takes you step-by-step through the app, showing you how to gather and save research, and draft and edit books, articles and blog posts.

Herron also explains in detail how to use the “Compile” feature to gather the disparate parts of your writing into one concise document in several different format options, including Microsoft word, a .pdf or an E-Book.

I originally wrote and edited my  memoir, Adventures in Dating, using Microsoft Word, and spent about six hours one weekend getting it formatted properly so that it could be submitted to an agent.  (That is just formatting time, too. Not writing time.)  After discovering Scrivener, I imported the text for Adventures in Dating into it, and am now ready to compile it as an E-Book to send to Beta Readers or as a manuscript to send to an agent, editor or publisher with a few clicks of the mouse.

My favorite aspect of Scrivener is the Binder, which allows you to organize your work according to chapter and scene.  Each scene is an independent document that can be dragged and dropped into any chapter, making global editing a considerably simpler task.

Scrivener saves documents on your hard drive and automatically backs up to Dropbox, providing automatic protection against losing your precious words.

Literature and Latte offers a thirty-day trial of Scrivener, which is plenty of time to decide if this app is right for you.


SimpleMind ReginaMaeWrites.com.jpeg

SimpleMind is a mind mapping tool that helps you organize your thoughts and ideas.  It is available on iPad, iPhone, Android, Windows and Mac, and synchronizes across all of your devises.

Here is the mind map I prepared using SimpleMind for my article Fifteen Hawaiian Words You Need To Learn Before Visiting Hawaii.

Mind Map ReginaMaeWrites.com.PNG

I knew I wanted to write an article about Hawaiian words and phrases.  I used SimpleMind to create a mind map of the Hawaiian words I was most drawn to and to make notes on their meanings.

After finishing my mind map, it was fairly simple to sort through and choose the fifteen words I most wanted to share.

I’ve also used SimpleMind to create mind maps for my Kirk’s Bluff Trilogy, which has helped me track characters, plot, and structure.

SimpleMind gives you the option of storing on your local device or saving to Dropbox.

SimpleMind offers a free version, and for $5 you can unlock all of its features.


Pomodoro ReginaMaeWrites.comThe Pomodoro Technique is a time-management system that breaks tasks up into set periods of time separated by short breaks.

The long periods typically last for 25 minutes, with a five minute break after the first three sessions and then a longer break after every fourth session.

I use the Pomodoro Time app by Xwavesoft that is compatible with iPhone, iPad and Mac, although you could use any timer.  One of the reasons I like using this particular app is because it helps me track how much time I am spending on each project.

I love using the timer because it reminds me to get up every 25 minutes to step away from my computer, drink a glass of water, take the dogs for a walk or anything.  I’ve found by committing myself to an uninterrupted period of time, I accomplish more because it shuts down my butterfly-brain that wants to flutter from idea to idea and task to task.

Wrapping It Up

These three apps have helped my writing immeasurably.  They provide me with the tools I need for brainstorming ideas, keeping my writing organized, and managing my time to produce the highest quality writing in the time I have available to me.

Have you tried any of these apps?  If so, what do you like or dislike most about them?

If you haven’t tried any of them yet, follow the links above and download the free versions and let me know what you think.  I am not a paid affiliate and don’t get anything if you download any or all of them.  I just love them, and want you to give them a try.

I can’t wait to hear back from you.  Until I do, keep your minds and hearts,

Ever Upward,

Regina Mae

Fifteen Hawaiian Words You Need To Learn Before Visiting Hawaii

Fifteen Hawaiian Words You Need To Learn Before Visiting Hawaii

Kiahuna Plantation Poipu Beach Kauai ReginaMaeWritesVisiting the islands of Hawaii is like visiting a foreign country.  Hawaii became a territory of the United States in 1898, and became the fiftieth state in 1959, but has managed to maintain its charming language and unique character.

The Hawaiian language is recognized as the second official state language of the State of Hawaii.  It is impossible to fully appreciate a visit to the Hawaiian islands without learning some of the Hawaiian language.

Here are the fifteen Hawaiian words or phrases which will help you most appreciate your visit to Hawaii.

Fifteen Hawaiian Words You Must Learn Regina Mae Writes.PNG

1. Ohana

Everyone who has watched Disney’s Lilo and Stitch has heard the word ohana, which means family.  In Hawaiian culture, family is everything.

Last fall, my beau and I spent two weeks on Kauai, the Garden Isle.  While we were shopping at The Koa Store in Old Koloa Town, Jon and I struck up a conversation with the clerk, a friendly Hawaiian woman in her fifties.  She and Jon recognized each other’s faces, but couldn’t figure out why. Small town life is the same all over the world, and it turns out she worked at the Kuk (pronounced “kook”) or the Kukui’ula Market, the local grocery/convenience story twenty years ago when Jon lived on Kauai.

We spent an hour talking about family, from her sister, who had moved to the mainland and longed to return to her ohana, to Jon and his sister, who were back on the island for the first time in over fifteen years.

“It’s not good to stay away from the island,” she told us.  “Family is everything, and Kauai is family.”

2. Aloha

Aloha is probably the most commonly used, but least understood, Hawaiian word.  It is used to say hello and goodbye, but its message goes much deeper than that.    

Aloha encompasses love, peace and affection. Aloha is a way of life.  To do something with aloha means to do it with your whole heart and soul.

As our Auntie Aloha explained it to us, ha is the breath of life, and Aloha means I give to you the breath of life.

3. ’Aina

‘Aina (pronounced “eye-nah”) is the land or literally, that which feeds us.  Hawaiians live outside, whether they are farming or surfing, fishing or hiking.  For most Hawaiians, there is little differentiation between themselves and the land.  The love of land, or aloha ‘aina, is a driving force in the Hawaiian culture.   Hawaiians believe that you must treat the ‘aina with respect and dignity, because it sustains you.

4.  Kama’aina

Kama’aina refers to a long-time resident or native of Hawaii, and is seen most often in the context of the kama’aina discount given to locals.  As a visitor, you don’t qualify for the kama’aina discount unless, like us, you have an Auntie Aloha on the island with you.

5. Mahalo (Mahalo Nui Loa)

Mahalo is a word you will here everywhere in Hawaii.  It means thank you, and everyone from the desk clerk at your hotel, to your server at the many yummy restaurants you will eat in, to the crew on the helicopter or catamaran tour end conversations with mahalo.  Mahalo nui loa means thank you very much, and is a phrase you will want to use often as the Hawaiians treat you with aloha love.

6.  E Como Mai

E como mai means welcome, or come on in.  It is used to invite visitors to come into your home or business.  Most businesses have a sign over their doors telling you e como mai.

7.  Pau Hana

Pau hana means done working.  You will see pau hana specials in many of the restaurants and bars you visit on the islands to celebrate happy hours.  It’s also what the locals say when they are done working for the day.

Fifteen Hawaiian Words ReginaMaeWrites

8 & 9.  Mauka and Makai

Mauka is the mountain and makai is the ocean, and both are equally majestic and equally dangerous.   Any direction you look in Hawaii will be dominated by the mauka or the makai.   Directions are often given by referring to either the mauka or the makai.

10.  No Ka ‘Oi

No ka ‘oi means nothing finer or the best. Or as my beau would say, “Nothing bettah, brah.”  On the islands, you most often see this in phrases like “Maui no ka ‘oi” or “Kauai no ka ‘oi.

11.  Menehune

Menehune are a legendary race of small people who are believed to have worked during the night building roads, fish ponds and temples.  The Menehune Fish Pond in Kauai is believed to have been built by the Menehunes thousands of years ago to act as a dam and to catch fish to feed the royal family.

12 & 13. Kapu and Heiau

Kapu means sacred or to be revered.  It is most often seen in burial grounds and sacred places.  If an area is marked kapu, you should stay out unless you have permission to enter.

A heiau (pronounced “hey-ow”) is a shrine or place of worship, or a sacred place.  Heiaus are all over the islands, and sometimes the signs are old and hard to read.  If you come across a heiau in your wanderings, please assume it is kapu and stay out of it.

14.  Pono

Pono refers to righteousness.  Living a life of pono means making correct, self-less choices every day.

The concept of pono is so important to Hawaiians that it has been incorporated into the State motto:  Ua Mau Ea o ka ‘Ana I ka Pono which means that the life of the land is perpetuated in righteousness.

Jon was raised on the island of Kauai.  The way he explains it to me, if people make the right choices, pono, about the land, the ‘aina, then the righteousness of land will be perpetuated by the righteousness of the people to insure its protection for future generations.

The Hawaiian artist Israel Kamakawiwo’ole, or Braddah Iz, sang about pono in the song Hawaii 78.  Iz sang about the Hawaiian ancesters, and imagining what they would think about the changes to the ‘aina.  It’s a hauntingly beautiful song that encourages everyone to treat the land of Hawaii with pono.

15. A Hui Hou

A hui hou means until we meet again, and so a hui hou, keep your minds and hearts,

Ever upward,

Regina Mae

Five Things Every Beginning Writer Needs to Know

Five Things Every Beginning Writer Needs to Know

An Interview with L.K. McCall

L.K. McCall - Photo Two

L.K. McCall is an Indie Author whose debut novel, Sway of the Siren, was released in December 2015. Recently, she filled me in on the five things every beginning writer needs to know over margaritas and guacamole.

Pay Attention to Strong Images

McCall’s love of writing began as a coping mechanism after her family moved when she was in high school and she was mistaken for a narc at her new high school.  With a twinkle in her eye and in her thick upstate South Carolina accent, she explains denying being a narc doesn’t do any good, because that’s exactly what narcs say.  

Beautiful Piece of Humanity Regina Mae Writes.PNGShe imagined herself becoming a writer, but when it was time to go to college, her dad steered her toward safer careers like teaching and nursing.  They compromised on an English degree, and after graduating from Clemson University, McCall became an English teacher. 

Her love of writing never wained, and she eventually took a six-hour graduate-level class at Clemson University called the Upstate Writing Project.  One of the speakers was Ron Rash, the Southern Appalachian author of numerous poems, short stories and novels including Serena and Above the Waterfall.  During his lecture, Rash told the students that his stories always start with a strong image that he can’t get away from.  He doesn’t know the story in the beginning, but lets it grow from that image in his mind.

It was in that same way that McCall’s idea for Sway of the Siren started with a strong image that came to her one day and wouldn’t go away.  That image became the ending of the story, and the beginning of her journey as a published author.

Find An Encourager

For the last few years, McCall has taught in an alternative school for troubled students.  Her classroom was in a two-room portable that she shared with an older teacher, Elijah Heyward, Jr.  Heyward, a gifted poet who published Stories and Poems of a Gullah Native in 2012, would tease her with mocking poems he’d jot down on scrap paper in the time it would take her to use the restroom, which was on his side of the portable.  Then, when she struggled to write a retort, he’d mock her further, asking if he had to write the retort for her as well.

Determined to impress him, she brought him a few things she’d written in the past, and he told her, “You’re pretty good, maybe you should write.”

During this time, while the image of her novel was swirling around in her mind, becoming bigger and more insistent, Heyward called her to his room and told her that he’d had a dream about her the night before.  Heyward is Gullah and in the Gullah culture, dreams are very important.  They can tell who’s going to be born and who’s going to die.  They can predict the future.  Although McCall isn’t Gullah, she has tremendous respect for the Gullah culture and community, and listened intently to his dream.  Heyward’s dream turned out to be, in essence, the image she had for her novel.

That day, she thanked him, told him she knew what the dream meant, and walked away.  It was another eight months before she confessed that she was writing a novel.  The last day before Thanksgiving break, she brought Heyward half of the manuscript and asked him to read it and tell her what he thought.  Because he’d been critical of her writing in the past, she trusted him to be honest.  Because he is Gullah and the story contains a lot of the Gullah culture, she valued his input. 

On Monday morning when she came back from Thanksgiving break, he was waiting outside for her.  She asked if he liked it.  

“What, that crappy novel you’re writing?” 

But then he followed her to her room to tell her how good it was. 

From that day on, he encouraged her, bringing her handwritten cards to let her know she’d been on his mind and he believed in her story.  He spoke to her every day.  He gave her honest feedback.  And then proceeded to mentor her through the entire process, from writing, to editing, to publishing and promoting the finished novel.

Ass in Seat Time

Writing a novel requires discipline, especially if, like McCall, you have a family and a full-time job.  If you want to write, you have to stop talking about it and just do it.  McCall calls it Ass in Seat Time.  

For McCall, that meant getting up at 4:00 a.m. every day to write for two hours before showering and going to work.  After dinner, while her husband and their two sons were watching television or movies, she was at her desk writing until midnight.  Every weekend was heavy on Ass in Seat Time and light on fun, or housework to the chagrin of her oldest son.

She maintained this schedule for two years.  Her May River neighborhood has bonfires, oyster roasts and get togethers every weekend, and she skipped most of those to devote time to writing for two years.

The one break she gave herself from Ass in Seat Time was when she joined a writing group, Write to be Heard, a chapter of the South Carolina Writers Workshop, which meets twice a month.  Those meetings gave her an opportunity to have fun, get encouragement from fellow writers, and be held accountable for her writing.

Find Beta Readers

Early in the writing process, McCall gave her manuscript to a published author who noticed that McCall used the same sentence structure over and over again. Even though she was teaching her students to use six different sentence structures, she didn’t realize that in her own writing, she wasn’t using them.  Thankfully, this author brought it to her attention after three chapters and she was able to avoid that mistake for the rest of the manuscript.

During this time, find people who will tell you the truth about your writing.  There are people who will always tell you how great your writing is, and that isn’t helpful during the writing process.  McCall says these are the people you need after you’ve published your novel, so figure out early who they are and save them for the time when the book is published and it’s too late to change.

Don’t Compare Yourself to Anyone Else

The last piece of advice McCall has for the beginning novelist is to avoid comparing yourself to anyone else.  This is your story, and nobody else can write it like you can.  And in that same vein, don’t worry about what anyone else thinks about your story.  There will be people it resonates with, but if you try to write a story that resonates with everyone, you’ll end up with a story that resonates with no one.

Since publishing Sway of the Siren in December 2015, McCall has donated over $1,000 from the proceeds of the novel to the Pan African Family Empowerment & Land Preservation Network which, in part, helps the descendants of freed slaves save their ancestral lands by providing funds for taxes.

L.K. McCall - Photo 1You can learn more about L.K. McCall at her Website, Facebook and Twitter.

Sign up for my mailing list for a chance to win one of two autographed copies of Sway of the Siren.  (And if you’re already signed up, you’re already in!)

Ever upward,

Regina Mae